9 Wonders of Istanbul

What is Turkey for Russian tourists? Food without restrictions on the All Inclusive system, beach from morning to evening, clubs and discos from evening to morning, excursions to Pamukkale and the Fires of Anatolia show, short shopping tours to the nearest town for a leather jacket or bed linen and magnets on the fridge as a memento of the trip.

But there is another Turkey — And now is the time to get to know her. Legendary Istanbul — a unique city spread over two continents at once, absorbing the cultural traditions of Europe and Asia, washed by the waters of two seas, the Black and Marmara, welcomes its guests with traditional oriental hospitality. Although Ankara is the capital of Turkey, it is Istanbul, which has been the capital of 4 empires, that can rightfully be called its heart.

COVID -19 made its own, not very pleasant, adjustments to our travels, and upon arrival in Istanbul, tourists undergo a non-contact temperature measurement procedure and, if desired, take a PCR test.

In public places and on the streets, tourists and locals are required to observe safety measures – keep social distance and wear a mask, the fine for not wearing which is quite high and amounts to 150 euros.

The nightlife of the city has also experienced the effects of COVID -19. Many bars and restaurants in Istanbul have closed their doors, or at least imposed restrictions on the number of visitors, so sitting in a big cheerful company will not work. Even hotels that have passed safety certification observe safety precautions and occupy no more than 50-60% of their rooms.

But, as they say, there is no evil without good. This year gave travelers a unique opportunity to see Istanbul and its sights without endless queues. The famous mosques, the Grand Bazaar, the Basilica Cistern, the Galata Tower and other iconic places in Istanbul can be visited quietly, without the crowds that usually fill them.

Do not waste time – do not miss this chance.

What to see in Istanbul.
The city throughout its centuries-old history was the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman empires, and every period endowed Istanbul with real gems of architecture, turning it into an open-air museum.

1. Hagia Sophia

9 miracles Istanbul

The famous Hagia Sophia, which for its nine centuries of history was both an Orthodox church, a mosque, and a museum, again regained the status of a mosque a few months ago, in July 2020. Despite this, Hagia Sophia is open to tourists, and for free, subject to simple rules . The unique building strikes with the beauty of architecture and the splendor of interior decoration. The frescoes with the faces of Orthodox saints were not painted over, they are hidden during the prayers of Muslim believers with the help of a system of curtains.

2. Blue Mosque

9 wonders of Istanbul

The Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is perhaps the most beautiful and majestic of the mosques built during the Ottoman Empire. In order to understand why the gray-silver building got such a name, you need to get inside – the interior of the mosque is lined with ceramic tiles with rich blue patterns. The Blue Mosque has 6 minarets, which was a departure from the traditions of the Muslim world – no mosque can have more minarets than the most important mosque in the Muslim world — The protected mosque in Mecca, which at that time had only 5 of them. In order not to have to demolish what had already been built, 2 more minarets were attached to the mosque in Mecca.
Guests of Istanbul usually had to defend a long turn, so 2020 could be the perfect chance to do without that tedious necessity.

3. Suleymaniye Mosque.

9 Wonders of Istanbul

The largest mosque in Istanbul was built on the orders of Suleiman the Magnificent, the most famous Sultan of the Ottoman Empire thanks to the TV series Magnificent Age. This is not a separate temple, but a whole complex of buildings, the area is not inferior to the whole city block, among which there are madrasahs, baths, a large library, an orphanage, a hospital, a kitchen and dining room, a caravanserai. The architect Sinan, who brought this architectural miracle to life, foresaw the seismic activity of the region and the mosque, about which he himself predicted that “It will stand forever”, survived about a hundred earthquakes, including 7-point ones, with virtually no damage. The luxurious decoration of the mosque illuminates many windows, streams of light penetrate through 136 windows located around the perimeter of the building, and through 32 windows built into the dome itself.

4. Topkapi Palace

9 wonders of Istanbul

From the moment the Turks conquered Constantinople until the 19th century, Topkapi Palace was the residence of the Turkish sultans. The cannon gate – this is how the name of the palace is translated – was named so because every time the Sultan left his residence or returned to it, a cannon fired.
Initially, the palace was a “working office” so to speak, the harem was moved Topkapi only under Suleiman the Magnificent, at the insistence of his wife, the famous Roksolana.
On the territory of the palace there are such sights as the Court of the Janissaries, the Church of St. Irene – the oldest Orthodox church in Constantinople, the Tower of Justice, the Beshir Aga Mosque and Hammam, the Throne Room of the Palace, the Sultan's Chambers, the Treasury, the Tulip Garden, the Stone Tower and many others.
Now the Topkapi Palace is one of the largest museums in the world. The most important Muslim shrines are kept here – a sword, a cloak and an imprint of the foot of the prophet Muhammad. About 65 thousand exhibits are available for viewing to the public. The oldest exhibit belongs to the 7th century.

5. Dolmabahce Palace

9 wonders of Istanbul

The baroque palace, which replaced the medieval luxury of Topkapı, was built in 1853 as the residence of Sultan Abdulmejid I. More than 14 tons of gold were used to decorate the interiors, and the entire construction cost exceeded the incredible amount of five million gold pounds. The palace is decorated with paintings by Ivan Aivazovsky, commissioned by the Sultan, and a Bohemian glass chandelier donated by Queen Victoria, weighing almost five tons — the largest and heaviest chandelier in the world. The palace competes in beauty and elegance with the famous European palaces, such as Versailles.
One of the most interesting buildings is a glass pavilion that looks like an exquisite jewel, which offers stunning views of the local nature.

< b>6. Yildiz Palace

9 Wonders of Istanbul

palace” served as the residence of Sultan Abdul-Hamid II, who ruled from 1876 to 1909. Formerly the Sultan's manor, the palace was rebuilt by the Italian architect Raimondo d'Aronco, a prominent representative of the Art Nouveau style. The palace is surrounded by a beautiful park full of exotic flowers and trees.
Yildiz Palace — the “youngest” palace of the Ottoman dynasty. Under Abdul-Hamid II, the building housed the chambers of the officials of the Empire, workshops, a theater box, a large library.
After the fall of the Ottoman dynasty, the heads of foreign states and high-ranking diplomats who came to Istanbul stopped in the palace for some time. Now the palace has been completely transformed into a museum.

7. Basilica Cistern

9 wonders of Istanbul

One of the most impressive monuments of architecture in Istanbul, which is often filmed in films – for example, in one of the parts of the James Bond film epic and in the film “Inferno”, based on the work of the same name by Dan Brown.
The cistern was built in Byzantine times, and its vaults are supported by columns taken by Christians from destroyed pagan temples, which gives the underground structure the appearance of either a mysterious crypt, or the Parthenon, which, by some freak of nature, sank underground and was partially flooded with dark waters.

8. Grand Bazaar

9 wonders Istanbul

One of the largest markets in the world is the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. But don't be fooled by the name – don't shop here, as the prices are very high. But you can look at local souvenirs, gold and carpets, bargain heartily, drink a cup of real Turkish coffee – in a word, have a great time.
The Grand Bazaar is 60 streets, 4400 shops and shops, 2000 ateliers, mosques, cafes, a school, a bathhouse and its own police station. The bazaar is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, except Sundays and religious holidays. This is a real city within a city, a tourist attraction, a museum and a temple of Turkish trade.

9. Bosphorus Bridge

9 wonders of Istanbul

For the first time, the question of crossing the Bosphorus Strait had to be decided by the Persian king Darius I. The first pontoon bridge was built for the crossing of his troops. Sultan Abdul-Hamid II built a crossing of boats connected by ropes across the strait, and the existing suspension Bosphorus Bridge, also known as the Bridge of the Martyrs on July 15, connecting not only two parts of Istanbul, but also two continents, was put into operation in 1973. The length of this miracle of technical and engineering thought is more than one and a half kilometers, the height of the supports is 165 meters. In 1973 it became the fourth longest in the world. Only once a year, on the day of the Istanbul Marathon, the bridge becomes available for walking. This is due to the fact that before the ban, the bridge was very popular with suicides. It is best to admire the bridge from the side of a ship sailing through the bay. From there, the Bosphorus Bridge seems like a thin thread of lights, a weightless web that forever connected Asia and Europe.

Of course, the list of things to do in Istanbul is not limited to these sights. Visit Istanbul — and if you don’t walk along Divan Yolu Street, don’t buy spices at the Egyptian Bazaar, don’t visit the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul, pass by the Galata Tower, don’t enjoy your vacation in Gulhane Park, then you simply don’t see Istanbul.

Enjoy the oriental hospitality to the fullest, drink coffee, eat oriental sweets and the freshest seafood, bargain as if for the last time, admire with all your heart – and this city will welcome you like family!

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